Google's Big December Code Freeze

419036369_296c175ddeEach Winter, the United States Congress adjourns through the end of the year. Before that recess occurs, there’s usually a flurry of legislative activity happening to squeeze it in before the break, during which time nothing gets done. This week, there has been a curious amount of activity coming out of Google at a time when many companies are in holiday mode. And guess what? It’s the same idea.

Okay, not exactly the same, people at Google are still working, but apparently Google has a “code freeze” policy that goes in place sometime in December. If you don’t get your product/service out the door by then, it gets pushed til when the freeze is lifted, likely sometime in the new year. A few Googlers confirmed this policy off-the-record, but all seemed concerned about publicly acknowledging it. Perhaps they’re worried about the competition working overtime to take advantage of Google taking its foot off the gas.

Based on the huge level of activity this week, it would seem that this code freeze date is rapidly approaching. It may even be this Friday, which marks the first day of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. That could well be why we saw Google Realtime Search, Goggles, and some new mobile search ideas at the event on Monday. While later, Google upgraded Analytics and opened Wave to everyone who had requested an invite so far. Tuesday brought beta versions of Chrome for both Mac and Linux, Chrome Extensions, and the new service, Vevo (which is based on YouTube technology). That night, Google also held one of its Campfire events, and launched a few new things for Google Web Toolkit. Wednesday saw the official Chrome Extensions event and the integration of Google Groups in Google Apps. Thursday brought Twitter support for Google Search Appliance and a new deforestation effort.

And on Friday, Google rested. Maybe — we’ll see.

If I were a Google rival like Microsoft, I’d use this Google downtime to pump out some new things that they can’t have an answer for. They have to wait until their code thaws in the new year.

[photo: flickr/audreyjm529]